Donald Trump’s willingness to accept the suffering of more than 20 million people by cutting health their insurance seems baffling but can be explained by understanding the nature of the idea that motivates Trump. He has made one of the classic mistakes that often lead to destructive debates about redistribution – he generalized an idea that is impossible to generalize. This mistake and its horrific consequences can be avoided by understanding better ways to think about ideas for government.
Is Donald Trump indifferent to the suffering of millions?
The reason for Donald trump’s stance on health care is not that he is indifferent to the suffering of millions of people, the reason is that he thinks their suffering is necessary to serve the greater good.
All debates about redistribution center around two conflicting ideas:
- The idea that it is good to help others, and
- The idea that it is bad to steal.
Whether people want to redistribute more or less depends on which of these ideas they value more highly.
- People who value the idea more highly that stealing is bad call for less redistribution.
- People who value the idea more highly that helping others is good call for more redistribution.
Both ideas are correct to some extent. Redistribution is indeed a form of legalized stealing that uses the government as an intermediary, but of course, it is a good thing to help others.
Constructive ideas on redistribution must combine both ideas without neglecting either of them, which rarely happens. Having learned the importance of one of these ideas in their daily lives, many people make the mistake of simply adapting this idea to political debates – which is a problem.
When we adapt ideas from the micro level (our daily lives) to the macro level (society, government), we necessarily generalize these idea. Those who adapt the idea that stealing is wrong always support less redistribution; those who adapt the idea that helping others is good always support more redistribution. We are unable to find common ground, a point at which we redistribute enough to help everyone but not so much that we steal unnecessarily.
Think of a runner who seeks to determine the ideal training distance. Depending on their goal, they go at least long enough to get sweaty, burn a certain amount of calories, or achieve a desired training effect, but they want to stop running before they risk cramps, injury, or other health problems.
Once the runner achieves their first goal of a desired training effect, the positive aspects of each additional step decrease but the negative aspects increase. At some point, the negative aspects outweigh the positive aspects, and the runner should stop.
People who make the mistake of simply adapting their micro level beliefs to the macro level are like runners that never start or never stop. They generalize an idea that is right in many situations and force it on all situations, including many in which it fails to apply. They willingly accept destructive outcomes because they believe that the universal enforcement of this idea is essential for the greater good of society.
In this sense, Trump and his supporters are far from evil. They pursue the greater good, but they do it without sufficient knowledge of constructive politics and with the wrong tools. There is a saying that there are no villains in the world, every villain is the hero of his or her own story. When we understand this story, we understand the villains, how to deal with them, and how to prevent destructive effects. This applies to Trump and his team.
While it might seem that Donald Trump’s health care policies are motivated by personal interests, there is more to the decision than the sheer pursuit of money. This is about principle, and as long as we act as if Trump is simply egoistical, we ignore his true motivations.
How can we better deal with health care?
The Theory of Moral Duality is the tool that allows us to constructively combine the ideas that influence health care.
To avoid generalizing a single idea, we need a blueprint for how to combine them. The Theory of Moral Duality provides this blueprint by alerting us to the fact that guaranteeing the survival of its citizens is the most important task of any government.
Nobody would support a government that wants them to die or willingly accepts their death, which is why denying a group of people the right to life forces them to rebel. A society based on this principle would face ever increasing division, hostility, and inner conflict. Since the protestors would die if they give up, their protests will be never-ending and limitless. The government can only decide whether to surrender its policy or violently suppress the protestors.
This is a choice no government should ever face. To avoid it, the government has to provide universal health care. No society can create enduring harmony if it neglects this essential right.
What can we learn from the debate about health care?
Any adaption of an idea from the micro level to the macro level will cause similarly destructive results as we see in the debate about health care. We begin to think that the unrestricted enforcement of an idea is essential to society, which is why the idea stops being a tool for the good of the people and becomes a goal in itself – and the people become its tools.
As tools, the people are expendable. The enforcement of the idea takes priority over honoring everybody’s right to live, which leads the government to sacrifice people to the enforcement of an idea.
To prevent this destructive process, The Theory of Moral Duality define guidelines which any idea has to meet. Within these guidelines, there is much room for the democratic process to define the details of the government.
To remain constructive, a government must grant all its people a right to survival and access to society.
- The right to survival demands:
- A universal basic income, and
- A universal health care.
- The right to access to society demands:
- Universally accessible education,
- Equal rights for everyone.
The right to live and access to society are binary and all-important, which makes them the first rights we have to consider. Without life or access to society, all our other political goals are unachievable. There is no reason to support a government that denies us these rights, which is why this denial forces people to rebel.
- The reason why Donald Trump and his supporters readily accept the suffering of millions of people is not that they are evil or cold hearted, but that they have adapted the idea that stealing is wrong from the micro level to the macro level, which led them to generalize it and force it on many situations in which it fails to apply.
- To create more constructive macro-level results, we need a system for adapting our micro level ideas to the macro level. The Theory of Moral Duality provides this system by alerting us that every government must first and foremost honor its people’s right to live and have access to society. All other considerations must respect these boundaries, including the idea that stealing is wrong.
- The Theory of Moral Duality allows us to constructively combine multiple correct ideas, applying each idea to the situations for which it is individually right but without forcing it on situations in which it fails to apply.